Prepare for The Most Common Questions at Your Job Interview

Prepare for The Most Common Questions at Your Job Interview
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From: Ladders

Are you prepared for the most common questions asked at job interviews? If you are, you have a great chance of making a good impression. One of the best ways to ensure this is to practice answering these top interview questions. You’ll then be able to highlight your relevant work experience, education, skills, and competencies with ease as the interview progresses. Below are some of the most common interview questions asked, with example answers and guidance on how to prepare for them and answer them well. Top job interview questions with example answers

Q. Tell me about yourself.

This question kicks off most job interviews. It serves as an excellent opener to get the discussion started and provides the interviewer with great insights into who you are and what you can contribute to the organization.

To answer this question, it’s ok to provide a bit of detail about your personal life that’s unrelated to the position, such as your favorite hobbies. However, much of your answer should relate to the job and company. Provide an overview of where you are at this time, how you got there, and what your future goals are.

Example Answer: When I’m not working, I volunteer at a local dog shelter. I love dogs, though it is difficult for me to have one due to my schedule. The dog shelter provides me with an opportunity to spend time with animals while also giving back to the community.

As far as work is concerned, I got into the industry because I always had a fascination with the legal system in high school and had a mentor in college who was a defense attorney. I shadowed him and decided it was the career choice for me. I’ve enjoyed where I’ve been for the past few years, though I’d like the opportunity to explore corporate law vs. private practice litigation, which is why I’m looking to make a career move.

Pro Tip: It can be easy to provide a lengthy response when sharing about yourself. It’s best to answer this question with a short paragraph that doesn’t run longer than a minute.

Q. Why are you interested in this position?

Of course, the employer wants to know why you’re interested in the job. If you appear aloof, uninterested, or desperate when answering, it will be a turn-off to the interviewer. Instead, provide details and specificity as to why the position piques your interest and connect it to your prior experience. This question provides you with the opportunity to highlight what you know about the company and position, so be sure to research the company ahead of time to share why you’re interested in things like their culture, values, mission, and services.

Example Answer: I love that your company’s values focus on compassion, empathy, and care when working with clients and team members. Those are values that align with my principles. I also understand that the position offers the opportunity to drive innovation and advancement in the engineering field, and I’m excited to learn more about your approach to those areas.

Q. Why are you looking to leave your current position?

Recruiters and hiring managers ask this question to ensure there are no red flags as to why you’re leaving. Be diplomatic when answering this question and avoid falling into the trap of speaking negatively about your soon-to-be former employer. Even if you’re leaving due to a toxic environment or a bad manager, you want to find a way to frame it so it doesn’t leave a bad taste in the interviewer’s mouth. When possible, make your desire to change about new work experiences, or other positive areas of career development.

Recruiters and hiring managers also want to ensure your answer to this question aligns with other information you share during the interview. For example, if you say you’re leaving because you’re looking to work for a company with a flatter organizational structure and then later say that a hierarchical structure works well for you, it raises a flag about your sincerity.

Example Answer: I’ve enjoyed working with XYZ for the past five years. Most of my experience focused on oil and gas downstream operations, and at this time, I’m interested in applying my expertise to upstream operations. This position would allow me to do that.

Pro Tip: If you were let go, it is perfectly acceptable to share that. It’s best to be honest and straightforward. If you were hired, the facts would likely come out during the background check.

Q. Why are you the best fit for this job?

The interviewer wants to know that you have all of the elements to succeed in the position. Your response should be clear, focused, and confident and explain all you can offer to the organization. To prepare for this question, review the job post, note the job requirements and qualifications, and craft a response that aligns with them.

Example Answer: I’ve been working in software development for the past seven years and have specialized in game design for the past five. I have also managed a team of four for the past three years. I understand you are looking to expand your game design development department, and I believe my prior experience will be of great value to you.

Q. What are your greatest strengths?

Your strengths speak to your qualifications for the job. When developing your list of greatest strengths, be sure to create answers with examples to “show” the strength vs. “tell” it. You also want to select a strength that directly ties to the job requirements.

Example Answer: I pride myself on my strong verbal and written communication skills, which will serve me well in this position when working with insurance clients and team members. I’ve been teaching a presentation course at a local community college for the past five years, and I am the go-to editor for email communications within our department in my current position.

Q. What are your greatest weaknesses?

This is one of the more challenging questions for candidates to answer. Be careful not to mention a weakness that is a listed qualification or attribute required for the job, and give your weaknesses a positive spin.

Read More: How to Sound Smarter in an Interview

Example Answer: I sometimes take on too much at once. I’m ambitious, and I get excited about new tasks and projects. However, when I take on too much, it is difficult to meet deadlines and pay attention to necessary details. I’ve addressed this challenge by adding all projects and tasks to my calendar and updating it at the end of each day and first thing in the morning. This allows me to have a regular snapshot of what’s on my plate to avoid taking on too much at once.

Pro Tip: Avoid saying you don’t have any weaknesses. Doing so says you lack self-awareness, are in denial, or don’t know how to take constructive criticism.

Q. What are your salary expectations?

The employer needs to know if your expectations fall within the range they are offering. However, it can feel uncomfortable discussing salary too soon, and it’s acceptable and understandable to want more information before discussing salary – and stating so.

Example Answer: I’d feel more comfortable discussing salary and compensation expectations after I understand more thoroughly the responsibilities and duties of the position.

Q. What are your short- and long-term career goals?

The purpose of asking this question is to determine how self-aware you are, your ambition level, and if your career goals align with what the company can offer.

Example Answer: My short-term goal is to apply my communications and social media expertise in a job like this one. I eventually want to develop and expand my skill set to lead a communications team and plan to meet that goal by taking leadership courses and seeking leadership roles in team projects.

Q. Tell me about a time you failed.

Behavioral-based questions like this are asked to discover how you’ve handled situations in the past, as an indicator of how you will likely handle similar situations in the future. Failure at some point, on some level, happens to every professional. The employer wants to know how you dealt with the failure and if you learned from it. Begin your response with your definition of failure, and then explain the situation.

Example Answer: I consider it a failure when my employees don’t feel they can speak with me openly about what’s going on with them at work. I had one situation where a client was harassing an employee, and instead of coming to me, she went to Human Resources. Though that is an appropriate avenue to take, I felt bad that I wasn’t aware that the harassment was happening and that she didn’t feel she could come to me first. Since then, in addition to our weekly meetings, I have held an off-site team-building event once per month, whether it’s simply having coffee in the afternoon or going bowling after work, to support our sense of community and build trust. The results have been positive, and each team member seems to come more freely and openly to me when issues arise, big or small.

Use these common questions as a starting point to prepare for your upcoming interview. The more thoughtful and controlled you are in your answers, the more you will impress.

See more at: Ladders

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Career Magazine: Prepare for The Most Common Questions at Your Job Interview
Prepare for The Most Common Questions at Your Job Interview
Have an upcoming interview? Then you’ll want to practice answering the most commonly asked interview questions. Here they are.
Career Magazine
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